Synopsis: ‘The Namesake’ is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America.
‘When her grandmother learned of Ashima’s pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family’s first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…’
For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that ‘baby boy Ganguli’ be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him ‘Gogol’ – after his favourite writer.
Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss…
Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri’s much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, ‘The Namesake’ is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.
The Namesake gets 5 Stars From Me
Oh what a beautiful book! Such a delicately written tale of a life I can barely imagine yet now feel almost intimately knowledgeable about.
I absolutely enjoyed every page of this book, Gogol is such a universal character – male and female readers will, I’m sure, find a kinship with him. His journey throughout this book is eloquently portrayed and utterly believable. His internal struggles to accept his parents, his partners and himself are all too familiar and I found myself empathising again and again with whatever situation he found himself in.
Overall this is a fascinating insight into the lives of another culture and the clash between nostalgia, family rituals, history and modern times. It is clever without being preachy and enticing without being lewd or gratuitous. A work of art.
I felt so sad when the book ended. Not tearful just sad. I can’t even really explain why, I think the story was just so delicately told and so beautifully captivating that it’s ending could only ever cause sadness. How wonderful to be so moved by the pages of a book.
I can’t wait to read something else by Jhumpa Lahiri, although I might leave it a few weeks so that my clearly fragile self can be ready for the next onslaught to my emotions!